Social Media Trends in South Africa (2019)

Here are the latest numbers for the top social media networks in South Africa from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn.

As a marketer, you need to know what’s happening in the social media trends for 2019, where the growth is occurring and where to focus your efforts. This list of statistics will help guide you to know what happened in South Africa’s social media trends during 2018 and what the trends are for the year to come.

Let’s start with the general population – the total population in South Africa is currently 55 653 654 people.

With the increase of affordable smartphones in the local market, we can see that a higher proportion of South Africans are able to access social media networks than ever before. This didn’t necessarily equate to a massive increase in Facebook numbers, but the vast majority of social media users now use their mobile phones to access their social media networks.

From 2018 to 2019, the South African population grew with 1.2% with a proportionate growth in internet users, but a much larger growth in social media users (28%) and mobile social media users (38%).

Social Media Overview

More than 40% of South Africans are active social media users with only 2% not being active on mobile devices. According to a survey by the GlobalWebIndex, 90% of social media users actively contribute to social media every month and they spend an average of 2.48 hours on social media every day.

The average number of social media accounts per internet users is a staggering 8.5 with 35% of SA’s social media users using social media for work purposes.

Facebook Statistics:

38% of South Africans are on Facebook – that’s a total of about 21 million people with Facebook profiles. 19 million of these Facebook users access Facebook via mobile. The gender split on Facebook is 50/50 for men and women.

Breakdown by city:

CITYFB USERS 2015FB USERS 2016FB USERS 2017FB USERS 2018% CHANGE
Johannesburg3400000380000050000004700000-6%
Cape Town17000001900000270000029000007%
Durban130000014000001400000230000064%
Pretoria170000017000002100000340000061%
Port Elizabeth360000370000230000520000125%
Bloemfontein240000230000120000360000200%
East London200000200000110000270000145%
Nelspruit200000219000110000610000455%

Johannesburg saw a decrease in 300 000 users in 2018 which is almost equal to the increase of 200 000 in Cape Town users, following a big overall trend in relocation from Gauteng to Cape Town.

Twitter Statistics:

Globally, Twitter has 335 million monthly active users with 79% of those users residing outside the United States. 80% of Twitter users are active via mobile. In South Africa, the total amount of monthly active users for 2018 was 8.3 million, 300 000 more than in 2017.

Twitter is still showing growth albeit slowly. From 2012 until 2018, the platform grew 245%, but the year-on-year growth has slowed down from 129% per year in 2013 to only 3.75% per year in 2018.

The most followed users in South Africa is the cricket player AB de Villiers with 6.41m followers and local celebrity Minnie Dlamini with 3.24m followers. The third top performer is Dale Steyn with 3.16m followers and the fourth top performer is News24 with 2.88m.

Instagram Statistics:

Instagram was the best performing social media platform during 2018 with a 73% year-on-year growth from 2017 (3.8 million) in South African users. Up from 680 000 in 2013 to 6.6 million in 2018, Instagram is definitely the platform to watch in coming years.

Globally, Instagram has a total of 1 billion monthly users who like 4.7 billion things every day. 100 million photos and videos are uploaded every single day!

Top South African Instagrammers include AB de Villiers with 6.9 million followers, Minnie Dlamini with 2.7 million followers, and Bonang and Boity with 2.5 million followers each. Interestingly, Dale Steyn only has 1.1 million followers on Instagram. These two cricket players’ popularity can be attributed to their acclaim in India as a result of the IPL.

LinkedIn Statistics:

Globally, LinkedIn had a total of 562 million users in 2018 with 6.8 million of those users residing in South Africa. Up from 2017 with 11%, LinkedIn is still showing promising growth every year.

Being a dedicated professional platform, this social media network offers targeting options for advertisers that you can’t find on other sites, including a breakdown by company size and seniority. In other words, if you have a marketing campaign wherein you need to target specifically CEOs or VPs, LinkedIn is the best place to do this, although their paid media campaigns are quite expensive.

Which platforms have the most active users?

The TGI analysis, a joint survey run by Arthur Goldstuck and Ask Afrika, represents the highly active users in South Africa based on a research study representing 24.6 million South Africans from age 15+.

Here’s what they found for social media users when using the past-7-days metric:

  • FB: 6.88 m
  • Google+: 3.94 m
  • Whatsapp: 3.69 m
  • Instagram: 3.44 m
  • Twitter: 2.71 m
  • WeChat: 1.97 m
  • LinkedIn: 1.48 m
  • SnapChat: 1.48 m
  • Telegram: 1.23 m
  • Pinterest: 0.98 m
  • According to another survey by the GlobalWebIndex, the percentage of internet users who report using each platform looks a bit different:

    Key takeouts:

    Facebook is still the largest social media platform in South Africa while Instagram is showing great promise for coming years. Marketers should seriously consider using this platform for their brand awareness and reach campaigns, especially where the target market includes millennials and Gen Zs.

    While LinkedIn has quite a large user base, the amount of people who are active on this platform is much less than other platforms.

    Twitter is not shrinking or declining in numbers. To the contrary, the platform is still seeing a growth of 800 000 people per year. Twitter is a great platform to use for up-to-date content, newsworthy content and short broadcasts without supporting images and video. Even if posts with images and video do perform better overall, this platform doesn’t require it to perform well.

    Marketers should focus their social media efforts on the platforms where the biggest part of their audience is active, not necessarily where the most users are.